Once again we’ve had the pleasure of chatting with an interesting, kind, adventurous human from the Bemyvan fam! Carol shares her Humans of Vanlife story today and what it’s like adventuring in her semi-custom B-Adventure as a remote architect, with her sweet pup Bodhi. Without further ado, it’s our pleasure to introduce you to Carol!
What brought you to Vanlife initially?
Well, let’s go back to Covid times. I wasn’t even considering it because I like to travel internationally and I’m not really a big driving person. I live in Colorado, so we’ve always just camped.
But then Covid came, and I was like, Oh my God, I can’t travel anywhere now. Then I got all excited about this other option where I could get a van, work remotely, and go places. So I decided to go down that path and get in touch with Ben from Bemyvan.
He was super collaborative, and I appreciated that as a designer! Ben was brainstorming and envisioning my vision with me making all my needs a reality, including a 27-inch screen and custom work table so I could work comfortably in the van. I guess you can say I’m a part-time Vanlifer as I use it for shorter road trips around Colorado and on the weekends. I still live in my home, but it’s so nice to have it as an option for adventuring now!
What made you choose Bemyvan?
Well, I’m a designer and a landscape architect, so you can say I have a lot of appreciation for fine design. That’s what I love most about Bemyvan! Just how beautiful everything is. The craftsmanship is superb. It reminds me of a yacht, or how a luxury boat is built!
I’m also a bit of a Francophile! I’m thinking about moving to France, and I loved how everyone in the office was French, and I was like, wow, there are all these French guys that moved randomly to Las Vegas and now they’re building these beautiful vans. I did a lot of other research, and I just kept coming back to Bemyvan. There really were no doubts when I finally decided to build. I knew I was going to have my van built by your team.
So you work remotely as a landscape architect?
Yes! It involves many meetings on Zoom and lots of drawing in special software. But it also involves going places and seeing project sights. I have my own company, and I’m always so busy. I was curious if it’d force me to slow down. And it did. I was ready to transition to a healthier work-life balance with more travel and more time outdoors.
What kind of travel do you do in the van?
I have two grown daughters in their twenties. One lives in Boston and the other in Cambodia. I did a month-long road trip with my daughter that lives in The States, and we drove through Canada and all over the East Coast, like Maine, and upstate New York, and ended up in Boston where she now lives.
We used the van to move her from her storage unit into her apartment. And I had my dog Bodhi with us the whole time too. After we left Boston, I drove back cross-country solo with Bodhi. I worked from the van during that time. I wasn’t working full-time, but it really forced me to slow down like I was saying, and so that convinced me that this lifestyle will be super fun. From May-August this year I’ll be using the van much more!
What kind of activities do you do on your road trips?
I have an inflatable paddleboard in the back. I also love biking but haven’t combined it with my Vanlife just yet! Lots of hiking with my dog. We joined Harvest Hosts, and once we had an entire Vineyard to ourselves in Minnesota on the way up to Canada. And it was free to stay there! I’d say we do about a third Harvest Host stays, a third camping and exploring national parks, and a third of the time staying with friends and family, parking in their driveways, etc.
I’ll probably start sharing the van with my sister and daughter soon, and start trading dog-sitting if one of them wants to use the van. My B-Van is a nice outlet and amenity that I’m figuring out how to use differently.
How easy is it to use the van?
It’s surprisingly easy! I was freaked out by the size of my van when I first picked it up; I was even afraid of the clearance in gas stations when I was filling up the tank. Now that I’ve got the hang of it it’s super easy to drive, use, and park, and the User Guide you all supply has come in handy – especially when it comes to figuring out how to use the heater!
What’s your remote work setup like?
When building my van, I had the guys add in a 27-inch screen. Normally when I’m working, I have double screens as being a landscape architect requires it. So I can do video calls with WeBoost, and my passenger seat swivels so you can sit there and work too! It’s a very versatile interior. I love how big, open, and spacious my B-Adventure is. I prefer not to have a toilet and shower inside because it makes it much roomier.
I also love turning the seating area into a couch for lounging or for the dog! I had a friend that looked at my van, and she ended up buying one from Bemyvan too!
How does your dog like the van?
My dog Bohdi loves it. If it were up to him, he’d stay in it daily! He’s a pandemic puppy with my pandemic van!
Once we stayed on a Harvest Hosts maple syrup farm – I was the only person there, with Bodhi, parked in this huge grassy field with a lake. Bodhi loves frisbee, and we had this giant park to ourselves and played frisbee for hours. It’s quality time I’ll never forget with my boy.
What would you say to people that are unsure about working remotely from the van?
It’s a hybrid world now. You’ll need the technology to work remotely, and luckily for us, Bemyvan builds have that! As a remote architect, I don’t work in isolation. I’m working simultaneously with engineers and other architects who are also working remotely. It’s imperative we stay in contact.
We’re reliant on technology and connectivity. I had a 27-inch screen installed, and it makes all the difference. That, along with Starlink and Weboost ensures I stay connected, even off-grid.
Pro tip: ask your wireless provider about a plan that allows unlimited hot-spotting. This was a lesson I learned after a hefty phone bill came in! Yet another lesson learned on the road!
What’s your work setup for the van?
Amy: For my nurse coaching I use the living room table for my Zoom calls. I’ll have my computer, my iPad, a little plant, and my crystals, so it’s not so sterile. This is where I work mainly, or sometimes I’ll use the swivel seat with the kitchen extension table to change it up.
What else have you learned along the way?
I know many people want a shower and toilet in the van, but I didn’t want that in my interior. I value open spaces, and for me personally, it makes my van even more liveable. Those are two things I knew I could figure out along the way.
I set up a small outdoor shower tent in the back of the van and hang it through whenever I want to use the outdoor shower. It’s simple, hot, and easy to use! I’ve learned how to find the little things and hacks to make them more comfortable and work better. I’d advise people not to buy a bunch of stuff for the van until they start using it themselves. You won’t know what you need until you’ve tested it out a few times!
Why a Van and not an RV?
I have no interest in RVs. I want a simple – elegant – classy – nicely compact space. I just don’t see myself as an RVer. I come from the backpacking world where you carry everything on your back and go into the wilderness! I’d rather travel and stay in a hotel than an RV.
Have you made friendships on the road?
I caravaned with a woman in her van, and that was fun! I know there are so many Vanlife groups on Facebook, but I haven’t used them just yet. After road-tripping with my daughter for a month I made the trip back to Colorado from Boston solo, with just my dog.
I met more people on the drive back than I do in my everyday life! I believe you often meet even more people when you’re traveling solo. It’s nice to grab dinner with them and make new connections, especially as a solo female traveler.
What have been your highlights?
The month-long trip with my daughter was so special. It was my first time driving through Canada and the East Coast! I’m looking forward to exploring the Oregon and Washington coasts this summer.
What advice do you have for newbie Vanlifers?
I guess I would tell people not to be afraid and just go do it. That whole drive back from Boston was by myself, and it ended up not being lonely at all. I met so many friendly people – more so than when I was with someone! And especially at places like Harvest Hosts.
You’ll meet people, have dinner with them, it’s friendly and once you do it once you’ll get a lot of confidence. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking but so very worth it!
So what are you waiting for? Explore your curiosities with a B-Van and enjoy a newfound world of freedom and adventure!